AWS re:Invent 2021 Recap - Top Shelf Tech w/ Dr Haren Sam

14 December 2021

This year's AWS re:Invent provided some game-changing announcements! Join AWS's Dr. Haren Sam as he dives into some of these key updates and explores what they will mean for New Zealand and beyond. Watch the video below or scroll down for the full transcript.

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Transcript

 

Ryan Joe

Hey, welcome to Top Shelf Tech. Today we've got Dr. Haren Sam here to talk a bit about the big announcements from AWS re:Invent last week. And we're just talking backstage around Haren's home decorations with all his AWS banners around there. Is it a common thing we see throughout your house? Or is it just for today?

Dr Haren Sam

Nah. I've been having this behind me for a while, I've been having some of these re:Invent sessions going on and off for the last couple of weeks. So yeah, I thought to make it permanent, go all-in on the cloud.

Ryan Joe

Cool. Unfortunately, Jeremy couldn't make it today, so you've got me standing in for him but yeah, a big event in Vegas - a big annual event, always some big announcements coming from AWS and we thought we'd just cover off probably three or four.

Where do you want to start first, Haren? We talked a bit about IoT and the private 5G announcements. Tell me a bit about the private 5G now, then we kind of what it means for you know, public cloud providers moving into the typical telco space.

Dr Haren Sam

Yeah. Before we get into that, Ryan, firstly like thanks to The Instillery and thanks to you and everyone behind the scenes for actually inviting me onto this. Always great to be back on Top Shelf Tech. Right? Love what you guys are doing. And thanks to everybody who's joining the live stream as well. Really appreciate the time taken off to do that.

Yeah. And re:Invent is pretty interesting because obviously this year we celebrated 10 years of re:Invent. And as you know, it grew from a pretty small set up to 50 to 60 thousand people. And last year was a bit of a roadblock. Obviously, the pandemic made us go virtual, this year we were back to being in-person as well as virtual combinations. I think that's the way forward as we go forward and look to the future.

And it was also the 15th year of AWS. Started off in 2006 and now we have 15 years. So it is quite momentous in that sense. Right. But for us in New Zealand it was even more momentous because we just launched our region a couple of months back, which is coming up in New Zealand, we've set up our offices. So it's on the back of all of these things.

The remit was quite exciting. And to get to the question you had, there were quite a number of announcements. We look forward to this time of the year. It's like Christmas coming pretty early. There's a whole bunch of stuff that gets announced. So it is always exciting. And I think broadly there were probably three different areas.

One, obviously there are some new services that are really exciting, which we'll talk about a couple of these things, private 5G being one of these things. But then there are also services to make them easier for the users as we go forward and specifically a focus on two areas, one extending the builders as we call them, the developers, to a broader set of users within the organization. Builders are no longer the developers as in the pitfall that we used to know, but it's also the other business users and then sustainability, which came off quite strong as part of the announcements as well.

So maybe we'll cover some of these things over the next 10 to 15 minutes. Right now, talking about actually the private AWS private 5G, it's a managed service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale your own private cellular network with all the required hardware and software provided by AWS.

Just keep in mind this is AWS announcing it and not a network operator. Right. And it comes in as a managed service with all the hardware and software provided altogether. This really great for localised IOT networks especially in the case of large factories possibly farms all large campuses, right?

And the whole setup operates in the US at the moment. This is available. This will be initially these are available on something called the citizens broadband radio service or CBRS spectrum allocation. So pick away all these kinks that you have to worry about when you set up your own private 5G network. Right. As a customer, what you need to do is just go to the console and then order it like any other AWS service. And basically start managing that and then scale up and scale down as you go just like any other AWS service. So it's really quite a new area that we have made an announcement on. I'm pretty excited to see the next couple of years as we grow the service.

Ryan Joe

Cool. So localized 5G IoT networks, we talk a bit about some of these big campuses or offices and things like that who may have struggled with the complexity of managing individual devices and their telco subscriptions and all that kind of stuff. Just order a base station, and you can scale up and down, whatever bandwidth you need and order different devices as well.

Dr Haren Sam

Exactly. And the other key part is we're not looking at the number of devices that is on the network, for example. So the pricing, et cetera, it's not going to be based on the number of devices, it's flat pricing based on the way you use the service as with any AWS service.

Ryan Joe

Cool. Yeah, I think there's a lot of opportunities to make IoT a lot more accessible to the general public or large businesses that want to play around with it. It's been really interesting watching over kind of last five or six years. Public cloud providers have shaken up the kind of data centre landscape you know, local providers, just not having the sheer scale that you guys bring. Really interesting to see what happens with the 5G and IoT play. Do you think there's going to be many complexities of navigating the private spectrum auctions and stuff like that in New Zealand?

Dr Haren Sam

I wish I could be the best person to answer that, but I'm not Ryan. Because we are pretty early in this stage, initially going to be launching this in the US, see how it works. And like I said, there's going to be different nuances in each part of the world, the different regions have different regulations and all of that. And I probably don't want to go down that part and answer that because I'm probably not the best person to really do that. But as with a lot of other things, we'll learn more as we see. And then obviously as the time comes, we'll definitely bring the right people on board to talk about that to the customers who are interested.

Ryan Joe

Cool. Yeah. Look, you mentioned a bit about the AWS builders stuff, and we've seen a lot of trends and continuing trends around artificial intelligence, machine learning you know, no code, low code kind of stuff. Where do you kind of see that heading?

Dr Haren Sam

I think one of the trends we are seeing with customers is like, if you go back a few years, AWS went into organizations. We are the builders, the developers. And with the tools that we provided, we provided the flexibility, the scalability, and obviously the security that is provided to everybody. So that's how we initially approached it. But what we're seeing is over the last few years, we have seen the definition of builders extend beyond just developers within organizations.

Right. We have seen businesses analysts. We have seen business users who are beginning to really experiment and actually start using AWS. And what they have been asking for is better interfaces, for example, to make things easier. Now this year we have seen two big things, one around the mobile applications, two around actually making it much more accessible to these business users within organizations.

So when it comes to specifically no-code applications like we have Amazon SageMaker Canvas that we launched. This is really enabling, not just developers, but also business analysts and business users to really start using a visual, no coding machine learning capability for their business analysis. Enabling them to generate accurate predictions without really writing code or requiring machine learning expertise, which is really hard to find as we know.

And what it gives is an interface that lets you browse and access separate data sources in the cloud or on-premises, combining these data sets with the click of a button. And train accurate models and then generate new predictions once the new data is available. So it's really a democratizing AI ML and giving access to the hands of these business builders within organizations, making it easier for them to get on and actually start using machine learning models without much expertise in these particular areas. So that's a key thing that we have seen that come out of re:Invent.

Ryan Joe

Yeah, the SageMaker Canvas interface looks really interesting, AI ML it's been around for some time now people have kind of grappled with it for a while. What are the most compelling kind of use cases you've required? Like you say, to rely on a bunch of expertise of specific people to do it. Now with things like SageMaker Canvas, you're putting the ability for product teams or data teams or marketing teams to be able to get in and play around, and even build small applications and everything like that. I think it's going to be really interesting, particularly for, probably in the New Zealand market where you know, we've got businesses that aren't at the same scale as what you've got in the US. And so being able to access these kinds of technologies and, with a much easier to use interface will be massive.

Dr Haren Sam

Yeah, absolutely. And plus, the announcements around the AI ML included two other key areas I just wanted to touch on. One is actually what's it called Amazon SageMaker Studio Lab, which is a free service that enables anyone to learn and experiment with machine learning without needing an AWS account or credit card or cloud configuration knowledge, really. So going beyond what we had done in the past, asking people to be having an AWS economy, Amazon SageMaker Studio Lab provides the capability for people to just get on there and start using and understanding.

Combined with that is also something being launched that is called the AWS AI & ML scholarships. This is a program in collaboration with Intel. So this is really about democratizing AIML, and also getting that into the hands of a much larger, broader set of audiences around the world.

So that's really looking at giving access to people to try out machine learning at a much easier rate across the globe. So these are a couple of other things that came along with the SageMaker Canvas.

Ryan Joe

In the past, you know public cloud providers are always been really focused on infrastructure as a service, but now you see, you know, AWS talking about builders, talking about democratization of accessibility to cover some of these groundbreaking services that in the past required a high level of expertise to be able to take advantage of, or play around with. Now you just sign up and for most of the stuff, you can get free trials or be able to play around with stuff. Along with the builder's trend, you talked a bit about some of the Pathfinders. That was a big theme at AWS this year.

Dr Haren Sam

Yeah, absolutely. So we use the term Pathfinders to actually recognize names in history that actually changed the game in many ways. Like Florence Nightingale was referenced to. How she shared and used data to turn around and change the whole concept of nursing and the way patients were being treated. And how would that revolutionized the whole approach to treating patients in hospitals subsequently and the nursing practice? So the Pathfinders like that, and we looked at us as back in 2006. You came more with database cloud initiative S3 and we felt that was a game-changer at that time.

But along with that, we continue to see some of this quite innovative stuff come out, especially during re:Invent time. And one of the two interesting pieces for me is obviously continuing in the trend of technology innovation. We basically announced the launch of Amazon EC2 C7G instances. Which is powered by the new AWS Graviton 3 processes. This is just really ideal for compute-intensive workloads HBC batch processing, distributed analytics, or ML inferencing, and it's expected to give 25% more compute performance, than Graviton Two.

So pretty exciting on the technology. Now that's one part. The other part of pathfinding for me is really having grown up in the mainframe era. I and a lot of our customers globally, use mainframes and they are challenging. How do we move the workloads that are on mainframes to AWS?

We just launched a managed service for mainframe modernization which is really pretty exciting. We got quite a lot of interest immediately from most of the customers as well asking, Hey, look, can we have a talk chat about this? Pretty interesting to talk about it. So, from a pathfinding point of view, these are two big announcements I was really excited about.

Ryan Joe

Cool. And the last thing we kind of talked about was the AWS cloud WAN. You see AWS getting closer and closer to end-users. Tell me a bit about that.

Dr Haren Sam

Yeah, absolutely. As a global public cloud provider, we have a quite extensive yet green network that connects our regions. We got 25 regions and 81 availability zones. Right. These locations are connected through a pretty extensive and green network at the backend. So what we've actually done with AWS cloud WAN, and it's pretty logical when I think about it really, is giving access to the customers to use that to build on top of it. Right? So it's basically about customers having the ability to unify their AWS and on-premises networks. The cloud WAN also enables global customers. Let's say there are businesses who have factories in some parts of the world offices in multiple parts of the, but this enables them to segment their network, to isolate sensitive network traffic, right from different parts of the organization and manage that whole thing with a single dashboard which is the AWS cloud WAN dashboard, and basically using AWS global network to connect the different locations that customers have and their resources.

And we have partners, SD-WAN network providers. These different providers will be on ramping onto the AWS network from there. So the idea is really as a service, that's pretty seamless and easy for customers to manage from a network and a dashboard point of view as well.

Ryan Joe

Cool. So 10 year anniversary of reinvents. I was all planned and ready to go to Vegas last year. I'm really excited. Everything got put on hold. So hopefully get the next year, but we've seen continuing trends around like you say AI ML, no code, low code, a lot of themes around democratizing accessibility of some of these innovative services, not just those ones, but you know, even 5G and putting it into the hands of customers. Yeah. There's anything else you wanted to say.

Dr Haren Sam

Yeah, I think, a couple of other things, which is super important to New Zealand customers. One is actually skills. So we recognize that there's going to be around 97 million tech jobs that are going to be opening up by 2025 based on economic forum data. Right. So we have announced that we'll be training 29 million people by 2025. To make sure that we actually upskill people and I think that's a supercritical thing for a lot of our businesses here in New Zealand. So we have programs like re:Start, which started off in New Zealand especially in Auckland and Christchurch now. SheDares is a programme to get more women into tech, as women are quite underrepresented in the tech industry.

So skills are one part of it. The other big thing is actually sustainability. So we just launched the ability for customers to really include things like sustainability as one of the well-architected frameworks. So this gives the ability for customers to really see what is their carbon footprint. What's that what's the impact that they're having. And I think like we said last year, the greenest energy is the energy that you don't use. All right. So in addition to going one hundred percent renewable energy by 2025, we also provide customers with the ability to really scale up and scale. Improve performance, reduce energy use through improving technology, like the C7G instances that we are launching. And it's proven. There's research collected by a company called 451 Research and it said, 88% lower carbon footprint on AWS than on prep when they made that comparison.

So we just want to make sure that we play our part and actually help customers move towards a much more sustainable future as part of it. So skills and sustainability are the two things that I think are really close to the heart to me being in New Zealand that are pretty interesting, that came out on this week.

Ryan Joe

Look, the skills thing is an interesting one in the current market, right with talent shortages. And we were lucky enough to host some of the re:Start interns earlier this year which was awesome to be able to. Technology advances at such a fast pace nowadays that a lot of time you'd come out of kind of a three-year degree and a lot of the technology's kind of moved on. So for them to be able to jump in and play with these real services was awesome.

Dr Haren Sam

And thanks. Thanks for the support you guys gave, that was awesome.

Ryan Joe

Yeah. Cool. Well, Hey, thanks very much for joining us, Haren. Been great to chat with you, and always good to have you on the show and tune in next time.

Dr Haren Sam

Yeah. And thanks, Ryan. Thank you to The Instillery and everybody else, have a great day. Thank you